[Update #2: Apple has issued a statement in which it says that it is committed to continuing to fight for cilvil liberties and collective security and privacy. The company doesn’t, however, comment on the possibility that the FBI was able to get into the iPhone anyways. The full statement is below (via Verge):
From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought.
We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated.
Apple believes deeply that people in the United States and around the world deserve data protection, security and privacy. Sacrificing one for the other only puts people and countries at greater risk.
This case raised issues which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy. Apple remains committed to participating in that discussion.]
[Update: CNN reports that the method used by the FBI to unlock the iPhone 5c only works on this specific device.]
Revealed in a filing today, the FBI has successfully unlocked the iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino gunmen. Apple, which has refused to comply with the FBI’s request, was set to face off with the government last Tuesday. The FBI, however, requested a delay for the hearing stating that it had found an outside method that could potentially unlock the device in question without Apple’s help. Now, the FBI has announced that it has been successful in unlocking the device.
While specific details of the method used by the FBI are unclear at this point, the organization stated in a filing that it “successful accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and no longer requires the assistance from Apple.”
Now that the FBI has accessed the data from the device, it will withdraw legal action against Apple. As for what information was on the iPhone, we’ll likely never know as it will be classified, but the FBI says it is actively reviewing the data “consistent with standard investigatory procedures.”
In a separate statement, the Department of Justice said that it remains a priority for the government to ensure that digital information can be accessed by law enforcement to “protect national security and public safety.” Furthermore, the DOJ explained that it will “continue to pursue all available options for this mission, including seeking the cooperation of manufacturers and relying upon the creativity of both the public and private sectors.”
This creates an increasingly messy situation for Apple, which has been very vocal with its opposition for violating customer privacy in favor of national security. Apple now needs to figure out what vulnerability the “mystery method” used by the FBI took advantage of and patch it. But it’s unclear if the method used by the FBI will be revealed officially and if it is valid on newer iOS devices.